User Generated Content (UGC) should be a major component of your content marketing strategy. Are you using it to your advantage on your blog? Most content marketers realize the importance of UGC bur are not sure how to use it to their marketing advantage. If you are not sure what UGC is, take a look at the following description form Website Magazine.

“A new study is shedding light on the digital habits of millennials. Five hours are spent with media created and curated by their peers, otherwise known as user-generated content (UGC).” – Website Magazine

You can take this information and apply it to your blog marketing. Two approaches are the “top down” or “bottom up” approach.

The “top down” approach:

A great example of this is products such as the famous Wheaties box featuring athletes. Another, which recently grabbed my attention, is a local real estate commercial that features Barbara Corcoran of Shark Tank endorsing the realtor.

Here’s some ideas you can use:

Leverage expert bloggers. Ask other, prominent bloggers to write guest blogs for your site.

Engage professional influencers to drive social influence to consumers. Who does your target audience follow on social media? Contact them and ask for a review of your service or product.

The “bottom up” approach:

“68 percent of millennials trust peer reviews while just 64 percent trust professional reviews.” – Website Magazine

Tap into the power of peer reviews. Create a campaign that empowers fans to share their brand experiences across social media. Here are a few ways to do it:

  • Ask for the share occasionally. (Not every post – that looks needy!)
  • Get the conversation started. At the end of your blog or social media posts, ask your reader what they think, what their experience is, or if they have any tips to add.
  • Run a contest. It can be as simple as tell us what you think of us and share with your friends. The top five people with the most shares wins a _________________. (Fill in the blank with a fabulous prize.)

Be genuine.

One thing that is often overlooked is the need to be genuine in your interaction with your audience. It can be the difference in generating new business or turning it away. Here are two examples of people I’ve met who showed they genuinely cared.

My family and I were traveling through the New York area and arranged to meet briefly with a speaker I had been working with (once again virtually). We were meeting in a very busy rest area – if you’ve been to New York you know they are bustling places – and I was a little concerned that we wouldn’t be able to find each other. There was no need. When Anne walked in, she exuded such a presence that I knew immediately she was “in the building.” However, she was not pretentious at all. Her aura was warm and welcoming. During our brief visit, she made everyone feel like she genuinely cared about them. One of the things she did so well was active listening.

You can use this in your interactions with your on line audiences. When you reply to their questions or comments, re-state what they have said in your own words. This has several purposes, it lets them know you really listened and it helps you be sure you understood them correctly. If you missed the mark, it opens the door to further conversation where they can explain their comments or questions in more depth. Most of all, it shows you care about them.

The second example is a speaker I work with, who lives on the opposite coast, was scheduled to speak in my area. He arranged for passes for my husband and me to hear him speak and we planned to meet afterwards. Having never had the opportunity to hear one of my clients speak in person, I was excited. Being an introvert, I was nervous about meeting him in person. There was no need. With one smile Sekou put all my reservations to rest. Without speaking a word, he told me he was glad to meet me and he cared.

How do you do this with your on line content? It is actually as easy as that smile. First you should invite comments or questions and then make sure you answer each one with a thank you and well thought out reply.

You can apply the principles used by master communicators to your content marketing. Study what they do and then apply them to the written word.

I’d love to hear how you encourage user generated content. Have these tips helped you? Leave me a comment.